COLUMBIA — This February, Missouri 4-H is partnering with Feeding Missouri in a first-of-its-kind statewide food drive. All of the state’s more than 1,600 4-H clubs, serving youth ages 5 to 18, are invited to participate.
Throughout February, 4-H’ers across Missouri will engage in a friendly service competition to see which clubs can contribute the greatest amount of food, cash donations and volunteer hours. The goal is to raise 1 million meals for food banks and pantries statewide.
Through local food drives, fundraisers and educational events and presentations, 4-H’ers will also help raise awareness about hunger and food insecurity in Missouri, where one in five children belong to families that struggle to put enough food on the table.
“We are thrilled to be partnering with Missouri 4-H,” said Scott Baker, state director for Feeding Missouri. “We hope the young people involved in this effort will be inspired by the knowledge that their volunteer hours and the food and funds they collect will have a massive impact in their communities and throughout our entire state.”
The idea for the statewide collaboration came about last year during a conversation between Baker and University of Missouri Vice Chancellor for Extension and Engagement Marshall Stewart. Both saw an opportunity to affect this issue through a partnership, and 4-H volunteered to lead the effort on MU Extension’s behalf.
“This project is a great example of the way University of Missouri Extension can mobilize, engage and work with local partners to improve the lives of Missourians across our state,” Stewart said. “I’m proud of our 4-H youth and their leaders and their commitment to take on this challenge.”
As part of that challenge, Baker and Stewart have agreed to dye their hair green if 4-H’ers meet the goal of 1 million meals. Feeding Missouri is a coalition of Missouri’s six major food banks that works to provide hunger relief to every county in the state and the city of St. Louis through a coordinated network of more than 1,500 community-based feeding programs.
For more information about the drive, how to get involved and how to contact local clubs to see what they have planned throughout February, visit the 4-H Feeding Missouri site at 4h.missouri.edu/4h-feeding-mo/main.
Major support for 4-H Feeding Missouri is provided by MFA Inc., the Missouri 4-H Foundation, Sharon K. Strubberg, Sydenstricker Implement Co., Farm Credit Southeast Missouri and Vivayic Inc.